Read Full Articles
It’s Tax Season and April 15 Is Around the Corner Regardless of Immigration Status, We All Must File
March 21, 2013 by Jennifer Brandt
By: Javier Sierra
Remember: the deadline to submit your tax return documents is April 15. And there is a lot at stake for Latinos, regardless of your immigration status.
It’s not only the satisfaction of fulfilling your civic duties. Filing and paying your taxes is also a legal obligation that must be met with strict regularity.
If you are a legal resident, and you fail to declare your taxes, you can be deported. If you are a citizen, it can cost you heavy fines or even a prison term. In any instance, it can make your life very complicated.
“When applying for a loan, the tax return is required in the process. If you want to send your kids to college, the first thing financial aid providers will ask for is the tax return documents for that year,” says Helen Orosz, a tax advisor.
And if you are looking to legalize your immigration status, “it is a requirement to provide proof that you have paid your taxes during the last few years,” she adds.
“If you fail this test, they will not approve your application,” says Orosz. “If anyone wishes to legalize their situation, they need to start paying taxes right now if they have not done so in the past.”
To meet this prerequisite to achieve legal status, the first thing you need to do is request an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Remember this advice especially now that the U.S. Congress is debating immigration reform, which could make the path to legal residency and citizenship much easier for millions of Latinos in the country. But, current and accurate tax documentation will be one of the first prerequisites.
And don’t be afraid to request this crucial number from the IRS. You will have no immigration questions asked.
“The IRS is one the most powerful government agencies in Washington,” says Orosz, “but, it does not share information with Citizenship and Immigration Services. The IRS does not look at or determine immigration eligibility. Their job is to make sure that all tax obligations are met.”
There is another important aspect. Your tax return will be used to determine your situation regarding the Affordable Care Act, which requires that practically all of us have health insurance coverage by 2014.
If you cannot afford health insurance, your tax return this year will help establish your eligibility to receive a government subsidy to fulfill this requisite. But if you are indeed capable of buying this insurance, then the situation changes.
“If you fail to get insurance, then you will have to pay a fine, any amount between $50 and $950,” says Orosz. “Undocumented workers are also liable to pay a fine and won’t be eligible to receive any subsidies until they legalize their situation.”
And finally, your retirement is also at stake. When you pay your taxes, the IRS sets aside contributions to Social Security (your retirement money) and Medicare (medical help for seniors).
If you are an undocumented worker, “you won’t lose that money because the moment you legalize your situation and notify the IRS, you automatically become eligible to receive it,” adds Orosz.
Regardless of your immigration status, you must declare and pay your taxes to make a more prosperous future for your family.
For more bilingual information about your taxes, visit pormifuturo.org or call toll free 800.206.9096.
Javier Sierra comments about issues of national relevance for Latinos.
Screening rates lower among Hispanic and Asian Americans.
The percentage of U.S. citizens screened for cancer remains below national targets, with significant disparities among racial and ethnic populations, according to the first federal study to identify cancer screening disparities among Asian and Hispanic groups. The report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, was published Jan. 26 in the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
In 2010, breast cancer screening rates were 72.4 percent, below the Healthy People 2020 target of 81 percent; cervical cancer screening was 83 percent, below the target of 93 percent; and colorectal cancer screening was 58.6 percent, below the target of 70.5 percent, according to the study, “Cancer Screening in the United States – 2010.”
Hispanics were less likely to be screened for cervical and colorectal cancer (78.7 percent and 46.5 percent, respectively) when compared to non-Hispanics (83.8 percent and 59.9 percent, respectively).
“It is troubling to see that not all Americans are getting the recommended cancer screenings and that disparities continue to persist for certain populations. Screening can find breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers at an early stage when treatment is more effective,” said Sallyann Coleman King, M.D., an epidemic intelligence service officer in CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control and lead author of the study. “We must continue to monitor cancer screening rates to improve the health of all Americans.”
- Women aged 50-74 years should be screened for breast cancer with a mammogram every two years.
- Women who have been sexually active for three years or are aged 21-65 years should be screened for cervical cancer with a Pap test at least every three years.
- Colorectal cancer screening is recommended for average-risk men and women aged 50-75 years, using high-sensitivity fecal occult blood test (FOBT), done at home every year; sigmoidoscopy every five years, with high-sensitivity FOBT every three years; or colonoscopy every 10 years.
To assess the use of currently recommended cancer screening tests by age, race, ethnicity, education, length of residence in the United States, and the source and financing of health care researchers analyzed data from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey, which tracks progress toward the achievement of Healthy People 2020 objectives. For the ethnic subgroups, Asians were classified as Chinese, Filipino, or other Asian and Hispanics as Puerto Rican, Mexican, Mexican-American, Central or South American, or other Hispanic.
Significant findings include:
- Screening rates for breast cancer remained relatively stable and varied no more than 3 percent over the period 2000-2010.
- From 2000-2010, colorectal cancer screening rates increased markedly for men and women, with the rate for women increasing slightly faster so that rates among both sexes were nearly identical (58.5 percent for men and 58.8 percent for women) in 2010.
- From 2000-2010, a small but statistically significant downward trend of 3.3 percent was observed in the rate of women who reported getting a Pap test within the last three years.
- Considerably lower breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening use was reported by those without any usual source of health care or health insurance.
The authors note that this study reinforces the need to identify and track cancer screening disparities. Additionally, the report provides guidance for the development programs to increase the use of screening tests in order to meet Healthy People 2020 targets and simultaneously reduce cancer morbidity and mortality.
Hispanics were 13.4% less likely to receive colorectal cancer screenings & 5.1% less likely to receive breast cancer screenings than non-Hispanics.
“Healthy People objectives are important for monitoring progress toward reducing the burden of cancer in the United States. Our study points to the particular need for finding ways to increase the use of breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening tests among Asians, Hispanics, as well as adults who lack health insurance or a usual source of health care,” said Carrie Klabunde, Ph.D., an epidemiologist inNCI’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences and a co-author of the study.
According to the authors, the Affordable Care Act is expected to reduce financial barriers to care by expanding insurance coverage. Other efforts are needed such as developing systems that identify individuals eligible for cancer screening tests, actively encouraging the use of screening tests, and monitoring participation to improve screening rates, they say.
Center for Disease Control
Through the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, CDC provides low-income, uninsured, and underinsured women access to timely breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, five U.S. territories, and 12 American Indian/Alaska Native tribes or tribal organizations. The CDCs Colorectal Cancer Control Program funds 25 states and four tribal organizations to implement population-based approaches to increase screening among men and women aged 50 years and older. Population-based approaches include policy and health systems change, outreach, case management, and selective provision of screening services. For information about CDC efforts to prevent cancer, visit www.cdc.gov/cancer
National Cancer Institute
NCI leads the National Cancer Program and NIH’s effort to dramatically reduce the burden of cancer and improve the lives of cancer patients and their families, through research into prevention and cancer biology, the development of new interventions, and the training and mentoring of new researchers. For more information about cancer, visit www.cancer.gov or call NCI’s Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).
“CDC works 24/7 saving lives, protecting people from health threats, and saving money through prevention. Whether these threats are global or domestic, chronic or acute, curable or preventable, natural disaster or deliberate attack, CDC is the nation’s health protection agency.”
For the original CDC press release, click here.
The Hispanic Access Foundation is committed to helping Hispanic Americans live better, healthier lives. We provide a searchable online database of healthcare services for Hispanics in communities across the nation. Search our database for healthcare services near you.
February 21, 2013 by Jennifer Brandt
By: Maite Arce
For Latinos, the 2012 tax return presents significant opportunity. In fact, the potential impact of key legislative changes for the nation’s fastest growing population is unprecedented.
Starting in 2014, many people — not just Latinos — who do not have health insurance may be able to receive a subsidy based on their household income and family size to help with the cost. Eligibility for assistance can be determined from an individual’s 2012 tax return, which can also streamline the insurance plan enrollment process with a health insurance exchange. With the individual mandate requiring nearly everyone to have health insurance in 2014, a key component of Affordable Care Act is the health insurance exchange — a marketplace where consumers can shop for a health insurance plan.
Latinos are by far the least insured demographic in the nation. For 2011, the U.S. Census estimated that 30.1 of Latinos are uninsured, compared to just 11.1 percent of whites. This lack of coverage is compounded by the fact that Latinos are 165 percent more likely to live in areas where environmental concerns can lead to greater health complications, according to the American Lung Society.
As for immigration reform, it is expected that both political parties will support a reconciliation of unpaid taxes as a prerequisite on the path to citizenship or legal residency. While plan details are still being discussed, it will likely require individuals to submit tax documentation for multiple years — an individual will need to provide an accurate tax history as part of the application process.
Unauthorized Latinos have long been chided for not filing taxes. But what is often overlooked is that state and local taxes paid in 2010 by households headed by unauthorized immigrants totaled $11.2 billion, according to the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy.
For the majority of Latinos, however, it’s not a question of not wanting to pay taxes (many do!) but rather a lack of understanding, not having an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), concern about immigration status or fear of the process. In fact, many Latinos who we meet have paid into the system for years, but never filed taxes.
In several of the countries from which our Latino immigrants come, the tax system is a wholly different process or not even enforced at all. Others have worked with unskilled tax preparers who miss even the most obvious deductions or those who add fraudulent deductions to inflate returns. Language barriers only exacerbate these issues.
This is why our campaign, “Prepárate Para Un Futuro Mejor (Prepare for a Better Future),” to educate Latinos on the U.S. tax system has been so successful. This tax season we will hold over 150 free tax seminars in coordination with Latino faith leaders as partners within the community and provide access to bilingual tax experts. Since 2010, we’ve provided tax education and information to over 50,000 Latinos. Our emphasis is on the importance of building an accurate tax history and being a good contributor.
By looking at future economic factors, the importance of this education becomes evident. Latino buying power is expected to reach $1.5 trillion in 2015, according to a recent Nielsen report. The U.S. Census estimated that there are more than 2.3 million Latino business owners contributing more than $350 billion to the nation’s economy.
Furthermore, the Latino population is expected to double to 100 million by 2050, and tax contributions will grow along with it. Affordable health care and immigration acceptance may be incentives for Latinos to file taxes, but the benefit will help our nation’s tax income grow and improve the lives of many.
January 22, 2013 by Jennifer Brandt
Do you enjoy being in the outdoors and have photos to show for it? If your answer is YES, join our 4 Stops, 1 Destination Photo Contest to win $500 worth of outdoor gear!
HAF will be accepting your contest photos until July 23rd, 2013 by 6:00pm EST. See contest rules for more information.
Link to contest album with rules:
December 4, 2012 by Jennifer Brandt
Cortes , a 17-year-old twelfth grader from Chicago, was born in Puerto Rico and is now deciding on her college, which is between Occidental College, Northwestern University, Boston University, University of Miami and the University of Iowa. She would like to become an editor or possibly an author after graduation. She fondly remembers reading her first book with her mother and the bond that formed between them. She would like to help others to experience that too.
Cortes was made awared of the New Futuro opportunity by Chicago Scholars, which provided transportation for her and her mother to Navy Pier for the event.
“I would like to thank the 1,463 Facebook friends who liked my picture and for their encouraging comments. I would also like to thank the Hispanic Access Foundaion for his amazing opportunity!” said Cortes. “It is so much help and one less thing to worry about as an entering college freshman. My family and I can’ thank you enough.”
Hispanic Access Foundation participated in the New Futuro college prep fairs because, even though families place a high value on college education, Hispanics are not graduating from college at the rates this country needs for its economic future and prosperity.
How else has Hispanic Access Foundation been involved?
- Executive Director Maite Arce served as an expert panelist on a televised Spanish-language discussion with parents and students regarding meaningful access to college.
- HAF Board Member, Marta Sanchez and Liz Neuenschwander, HAF’s operations manager, gave presentations to parents and students titled, “Family Involvement in Education” and “Pathway to College.”
- H&R Block sponsored HAF’s involvement in the New Futuro events.